20 Dives We Dig

A dive can be old, but it can't be just any old place. It should have a big heart, even if it's small. Its allure rises as the sun sets. As you settle in, it lifts you up. The three B's–bartenders, burgers and bands–tend to be damn good. A dive won't bust your budget. Most of all, you leave wanting to come back.

Central

Kim Marie’s Eat n Drink Away, Asbury Park

Illustration by Jorge Columbo

This curio-filled Irish pub one block from the boardwalk provides an atmospheric alternative to Asbury’s downtown dining scene. What’s more, the kitchen stays open until 1 am seven days a week. The menu is substantial; check out the deep-fried Irish egg rolls, stuffed with corned beef, cabbage and Swiss. Drafts are served in Mason jars. In the warm months, seven sidewalk tables are available for open-air dining (dogs welcome).—KS
1411 Kingsley Street, 732-774-6666

Stuff Yer Face, New Brunswick

A cousin to a calzone, the stromboli is reputedly a Philadelphia invention, but the Rutgers community has been feasting on them since Stuff Yer Face opened in 1977 a few doors from its present location. Thin pizza dough is wrapped around an assortment of stuffings and baked. The menu lists 32 varieties, but with a long list of add-ons, the design-your-own possibilities are said to be “in the billions.” In beer, your choices are relatively limited, to just under 100.—Shelby Vittek
49 Easton Avenue, 732-247-1727

Tiger’s Tale, Montgomery

Wood-paneled and glowing with beer signs, Adrian Stevens and Cory Wingerter’s Tiger’s Tale has a digital jukebox and 40 captain’s chairs around the rectangular bar, stocked with bowls of free popcorn (frequently refilled by the attentive bartenders). Best bet on the menu is the 8-ounce burger, grilled from fresh, not frozen, beef right behind the bar.—SV
1290 Route 206, 609-924-0262

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  1. Stef

    Yesterday’s Bar and Grill in Clifton has the best wings, Burrata Salad and specials. The beer is ALWAYS Ice Cold!It’s a dive bar with gourmet quality food!
    Also DP’s in garfield~~~ someone missed the best two dive bars!

  2. Krista

    Old Canal Inn in Nutley is NOT a dive bar. There are so many great, true dive bars in the area but I don’t want anyone to know about them so I won’t mention them here. 🙂

  3. Joe Broski

    Gotta laugh how Jackson, Farmingdale, and Point Pleasant became South Jersey! They are all equal distance from Cape May and High Point – about as Central as you can get!